Back on Oct. 30, Atlético Madrid traveled to Galicia to face Deportivo La Coruña with a chance to go top of the league. Atlético did not win that night despite scoring the opening goal (through Tiago, :sadface:) and José Giménez committed an egregious error that led to the equalizer.
At that time, Deportivo were flying high, in the top half of the table and boasting one of the league's top scorers in Lucas Pérez. But nearly two weeks into March, the good feelings have dissipated for Depor. Entering Saturday, Depor were 12 points adrift of the Europa League places (one of which is occupied by bitter rivals Celta Vigo) and were to be without Pérez for that night's game at the Vicente Calderón.
Atlético took full advantage of a weakened Deportivo on Saturday and attacked right from the start, nearly scoring 15 minutes in when Giménez hit a header narrowly over the crossbar. Soon after, former Depor man Filipe Luís (fully recovered from his horrorshow at Mestalla last week) delivered a tantalizing cross into the box which met the head of a rampaging Saúl Ñíguez and bounced past a flat-footed Germán Lux for the game's first goal. Atleti led 1-0 on 18 minutes and took that lead into the half.
Atlético continued to see much of the ball as the second half got underway. Yannick Carrasco increasingly dictated proceedings, hitting the crossbar once and leaving poor Deportivo defenders in his wake several times. Despite receiving a booking that will see him miss next week's trip to Sporting Gijón, Carrasco may have been Atleti's best player on the night prior to his removal with 10 minutes remaining.
Atleti's best player on the season, however, would make his presence felt on the hour. A short corner fell to Koke, who cleverly passed into the box for Antoine Griezmann. The Frenchman beat the offside trap and ended up with a clear shot at goal. He slotted home with his favored left foot to extend the lead to 2-0 (replays got in the way of seeing it in real time, thanks Spain) and register his 16th league goal. Diego Simeone would remove him five minutes later in preparation for Tuesday's crunch clash with PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League.
As so often happens late in games, a substitute put the game away for Atlético. On a play that was not captured live thanks to gratuitous replays (seriously, Spain, fix this), Gabi took a quick free kick and played a long ball towards Ángel Correa. The Argentine exhibited sublime control, slid into the box and produced a great finish for his first league goal of 2016 and his team's third on the night.
Atleti have now scored nine goals in the past three games - not too long ago, that seemed a lot to ask of this team. They will enter Tuesday night's game in great form and will be confident of advancing to the quarterfinals for the third year running.